This Saturday marks the welcoming of football to Athens this fall. It also welcomes the opening of the much-anticipated (at least locally) Catch 22 Gastropub. Nestled right outside the Athens-Clarke County line in Oconee County on Epps Bridge Rd means you no longer have to hear friends say, “It’s too far to drive all the way into Watkinsville.” Executive Chef Richard Miley has been hard at work for the past month completely redesigning the former site of Choo-Choo’s west side location. Along with the remodel comes great artwork featuring the brewing process from front to back. An open kitchen to the community styled dining area only separated by a large window, makes for a full view of the chefs working away.
We were lucky enough to be invited in a few days early to trial the awesome menu and prepare the staff for what opening during football season may be all about. Chef Miley has put as much work into the menu as he has the ambience of his new endeavor. The portion sizes are as big as his friendly ego and almost as ambitious. If you’ve never heard of a gastropub, it’s defined as a restaurant with a high upscale food menu and a serious beer menu to match. Featuring all canned craft beer along with a huge draft list it has something for everyone, including PBR tallboys served in a paper bag.
If it’s fresh that you are into then you’ll be happily surprised to find that Catch 22 doesn’t have a freezer or a microwave on site. All the dough is made fresh daily and it shows as we started with a salted pretzel with wasabi honey mustard. This was a nice spicy start to pair with an Avery India Pale Ale that I chose to wet my whistle with while admiring the aforementioned artwork, all of which the images were supplied by local brewer Brian Roth, co-founder of The Southern Brewing Company opening in Athens in 2014. SBC has their first signage ever hanging in the pub. If you want comfort food then you absolutely must order the filthy fries, they are to die for, and good enough to devour as an entrée all alone.
Our entrees for the evening consisted of a Haute Dog, a Kobe beef wiener wrapped in bacon and hidden by large slices of avocado. As large as it was it was half the size of Sarah’s House Burger. A double patty burger with bacon jam, grilled onions, aged cheddar and srirachi-up (yes, Srirachi ketchup).
One of the greatest things of Miley’s new place are the two large community tables that line the middle of the spot, from front to back. Intended as first-come-first-serve and for people to pull up a high chair and meet their neighbors, all while enjoying Miley’s amazing food menu and love for good, good beer. Be prepared to stop in Saturday before or after the Bulldogs home opener, order a pretzel an amazing beer on draught and discuss Clowney for the next few hours. I mean it is all about the friendship.
We’re really looking forward to being at Catch 22 Gastropub again this week to try the rest of the menu. Miley intends to change it monthly along with keeping a long list of local Georgia beers on tap. Hope to see you at the community tables this weekend!
Cheers to all your hard work Chef Miley!